Thursday, August 8, 2019

Your own idea of the game

We don't visit The Valley of Fear nearly so much as the short stories, which is a pity.

I have worked with Mr. Holmes before," said Inspector MacDonald. "He plays the game."
"My own idea of the game, at any rate," said Holmes with a smile.

"Were these Americans -- Californians?"

"But what's the game, Mr. Holmes--what's the game?"
"Ay, what's the game?" my friend repeated thoughtfully.

Such fun little quotes, perfect for an August where the game is definitely afoot. (And the line about Californians just strikes me funny.)

I like that Holmes starts a sentence with "Ay." I also like that while MacDonald consider Holmes a fellow player of the game, Sherlock Holmes was definitely making up his own rules.

Sometimes we all wind up on our own path, whether we like it or not. Tonight, many a Sherlockian arrives in Minneapolis/St. Paul for "Dark Places, Wicked Companions, and Strange Experiences," the 2019 incarnation of the Norwegian Explorers/U of M Libraries triannual weekend event. I've already taken a little grief from friends for not being present, but then again, none of them made it to 221B Con this year. Like Sherlock Holmes, we all play our own idea of the game, with every choice we make.

I truly hate missing the Minneapolis this weekend. New York may not be my kind of town, but there's something about the Twin Cities I enjoy whenever I get up there. The the Explorers and the Collections put on one of the best shows in traditional Sherlockiana. Why would anyone miss such a thing? Reasons, of course. The price might be inconvenient, other responsibilities might take precedence, some triggering moment might just have never happened. When it comes to all the game pieces and cards and even the board itself of our own version of the game, others might be left in the place of Inspector MacDonald, going "What's the game?" even after he just claimed to recognize some who played the game.

"You must play your cards as best you can when such a stake is on the table," Holmes said in a particularly trying situation. I always like that Sherlock Holmes's words portray him as more of a card player than a chess aficionado. Card games are games of the moment, where decisions must be made without full knowledge of what lies ahead in the deck. Chess is for those who need a more securely visible playing field, the Mycrofts and Moriartys. But perhaps we relate to Sherlock Holmes just because he is more like us, playing what cards he has.

I pulled those quotes from The Valley of Fear a few nights ago, before the "missing a big event" feeling of tonight hit, but they make for a very useful base for musing upon the thing.

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